Former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is in grave condition in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi source said on Thursday.
Ben Ali, 74, was ousted in a popular revolt last month and fled Tunisia after 23 years in power. He has been in exile in Saudi Arabia since then.
"He is in a grave condition," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, who said he was unsure which hospital was treating the former ruler.
The source did not say what Ben Ali was suffering from. But some reports said, Ben Ali suffered a stroke and was "in a coma" in a Saudi hospital, citing "a family friend".
The spark that lit the fuse of nationwide protests against Ben Ali's 23-year-rule came in the western town of Sidi Bouzid in mid-December, when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in protest at security forces shutting down his market stall.
Bouazizi became a symbol for Tunisian youth facing the hopelessness of a 30-percent unemployment rate.
The new transitional government has pledged to hold free presidential and legislative elections within six months. It also promised an amnesty law and the lifting of a ban on all opposition parties.
Ben Ali's overthrow sparked a series of popular uprisings which have rocked the Arab world and inspired the protests that forced out Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak.
AgenciesLast Mod: 18 Şubat 2011, 11:18